“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” –– Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss’ words ring true for all ages. Reading has the power to transport you to a different world and to transform lives. This week, the YSZ High School for Girls celebrated reading by holding a Mother-Daughter Book Day on Presidents’ Day. Transported back to the Deep South in the 1960s, students experienced a day of Southern food, fashion, music, etiquette, and culture, as they explored the themes in Kathryn Sockett’s book, The Help. True to the school’s mission, the classes and immersive activities inspired student curiosity, deep thinking, and real lifelong learning.

The day began with a classic “Mississippi breakfast” – waffles, eggs, and hashbrowns – with Rebbetzin Amit Yaghoubi as the keynote speaker. Rebbetzin Yaghoubi spoke about the concept of Tzelem Elokim; that every person is created in the image of Hashem and within them has a spark of G-dliness. It is this spark, she said, that challenges all of us to respect every human being. She further explored the meaning of the Chazal, “Eizehu chacham? Ha’lomeid mikol adam” –“Who is wise? One who learns from every person.” These themes of respect, perspective-taking, and growth mindset became fundamental themes that drove further discussions throughout the day, as students discussed the social issues tied to segregation and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Dalia Gadol, a student, remarked, “We often seem so different from each other, and yet, it’s important to remember that we actually have so much in common, as we are all humans created in the image of Hashem.”

The day was packed with thoughtful and truly southern activities. Students were animated during the mother-daughter roundtable book club discussion, led by their English teacher, Ms. Sebbag, decorated pies – a truly Southern delight – with a pastry chef, learned how to dine like Southern belles with an etiquette expert, and enjoyed a sumptuous Southern lunch catered by Chickies.

The day closed with a powerful, immersive workshop by Ms. Bruchy Moscovits, LMSW. True to the school’s head-to-heart mission, the session challenged students to reflect on their own individual characters who “live” within each of their minds. Dramatic and engaging, the session required students to move around and act out these different “characters.” “I realized that we all have the same characters and feelings inside of us, and each person experiences them in similar yet very different ways, so it is important to try to understand others’ perspectives,” reflected student Adina Rubinov. Ms. Moscovits concluded, “We are co-creators with Hashem in becoming the best version of ourselves, and just as there is an author to every book and its characters, we are the authors of our own lives and the choices we make.” Mrs. Zerykier, the Menahelet, closed the program by inspiring students to reflect on the messages, to remember the quote from the book that “change begins with a whisper,” and to know that they have the power to “write their own stories.”